GOP Is Preparing Its Strategy, Version Of Health Overhaul Legislation
The Republican Party is set to reveal an alternative health care reform bill to the Democratic ones in Congress just as the House prepares to take up Democratic legislation.
The Wall Street Journal reports that House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said the G.O.P. proposal would aim to cover millions of Americans but wouldn't be the same in scope as the Democrat bills. "It would, among other things, propose new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and make it easier for individuals and small businesses to pool resources to purchase insurance. Mr. Boehner said the Republican bill would also propose grants for states that use 'innovative' solutions to expand coverage. He pointed to states that have created special 'high-risk pools' to provide insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions" (Hitt, 11/2).
Reuters reports that the GOP House plan would not raise taxes nor require people to purchase health insurance. But "Republicans in the Senate have said they do not plan to unveil a rival plan but will instead offer amendments [to the Democratic proposal] on everything from abortion to medical malpractice liability. They also are focused on eliminating requirements to buy health insurance while allowing people who want to buy a policy to do so across state lines" (Heavy, 11/1).
Roll Call reports that Republicans in the Senate will try to use "targeted amendments to attack the legislation issue by issue" to turn the public against the measure and set the stage for the 2010 elections. "According to GOP sources, Senate Republicans also are ready to use parliamentary tools to slow down the floor debate to ensure it lasts at least four weeks. This could complicate pledges by Democratic leaders to deliver health care reform to President Barack Obama by year's end" (Drucker, 11/2).
Finally, The Hill reports that Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, is asking House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to hold a public hearing with Obama administration officials to discuss the health care reform bill. Barton "wrote, in a letter to his counterpart, that it was imperative that lawmakers question Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf as to the implications of the bill." House leadership has said members have had a lot of time to consider the bills and many hours of hearings (Hooper, 10/1).